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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy Two Years! -- In addition to wishing all of you a happy new year, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to one of my favourite comics people, Fred Hembeck. Fred began his site two years ago today (January 1st -- why the hell didn't I think of that?!?), and has been providing his highly personal views on comics, current events and his family life ever since. His site is a daily stop for me, and I hope for you, too.

When I first made the journey from my childhood love of corporate comics (Marvel/DC/Archie/Harvey/Charlton pretty much defined my comics world from the ages of 6 to 14, and yes, they were on sale everywhere) into the greater comics universe of independents, alternatives and undergrounds, one of my most-loved guides was the work of Fred Hembeck, then being published by FantaCo, an Albany, New York retailer/publisher that did some great, visionary stuff in its time, that was truly ahead of its time in many ways. The Hembeck comics FantaCo published were packed cover-to-cover with the cartoonist's unique restylings of my childhood heroes, giving me perhaps for the first time an insight into the malleability of superheroes -- how they can be used for more than just mindless (and these days, mostly joyless, too) slugfests.

In those and other comics, Hembeck used his cartoon versions of Marvel and DC's icons to comment on comics history, providing both entertainment and education in a way that few other cartoonists have ever managed to do. His stuff was a seminal revelation for me, and it's a delight now, over two decades later, to not only be able to read new stuff from him on an almost daily basis, but also to have established a friendly e-mail relationship with him. He's exactly as decent and witty a guy as his comics suggest, and I'm very happy to see that his site is not only surviving, but thriving. (I bet some of you even remember that Comic Book Galaxy carried Fred (and Neil Polowin's) The Hembeck Files for a time, too!).

So, anyway, on to year three. Give 'em hell, Hembeck!!!


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